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A Discussion of Why Organized Medicine Must Maintain Its Opposition to Assisted Suicide

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Physician-assisted suicide is now legal in 10 states and efforts are underway to legalize the practice across the country. State and national health professional societies are powerful voices in this debate because they represent the people who directly care for the sick and dying and would play a key role in hastening the deaths of patients who request physician-assisted suicide. The positions these societies adopt on physician-assisted suicide signal to policymakers and the public whether the practice is ethically acceptable and in the best interest of the patient.

In a May 2018 article for the Journal of General Internal Medicine, Daniel Sulmasy, MD, and others argue that when organized medicine changes its stance on physician-assisted suicide from opposed to neutral, it "represents a substantive shift in a professional, ethical and political position, declaring a policy no longer morally unacceptable; the political effect is to give it a green light." In this webinar, Sulmasy will review why this shift is at odds with the ethical and professional integrity of the medical and nursing professions and how it can put broader society at risk by eroding patient trust in the health care system and normalizing suicide. He will also discuss developments in palliative and end-of-life care and the responsibility of health care professionals to advocate for adequate resources for end-of-life care.